Saturday, January 31, 2009

Go and Learn

Matthew 9:13 KJV
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The phrase "go ye and learn" was a common Jewish statement in those days. Whenever a teacher was about to connect a spiritual truth he was attempting to teach with a passage of Scripture he would say something like "go and learn."

These leaders of Israel knew the Scripture, but they did not know what the Scripture meant. They did not connect the truth of the Word of God with the actions of daily life.

And there are some things that we just can't learn by hearing someone talk about it. We have to "go and learn." We have to learn it by practice and by both trial and error. We have to learn it from real life experience.

I can teach on welding (my trade before entering the ministry) all day long, but a man cannot weld until he practices welding.
I can teach a child about bike riding over and over, but he will not learn to ride until he goes and does it


Even so I can teach what I see in the Word of God in every service but those listening will not really learn it until they go and put it into practice in their daily lives. No one really learns God's Word from hearing alone. We must be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We must hear - no doubt - but then we must go and learn, through daily obedience to the Word of God, what we have heard means.

Friday, January 30, 2009

In Lifting Up Thyself

Proverbs 30:32 KJV
If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.

As easy as it is to do, it is still a foolish thing to lift ourselves instead of Jesus Christ. As men, our natural tendency is to make ourselves gods.
We want to express our own knowledge.
We want to be rewarded for our own efforts
We want praise for our own skills


And whenever God blesses us and uses us in some fashion the common tendency of the flesh is to take credit for it on our own. We might even says something like, "To God be the glory." But we have still reveled in the praise delivered. How foolish it is to lift ourselves! Only Christ deserves such glory. To take that which belongs to the Lord is the utmost in folly.

He uses the phrase "...lay thine hand upon thy mouth." As a studious person or a thoughtful person might place his hand on his mouth as he ponders a thought or hears the words of another, so we are wise to give good consideration of our own motives and thoughts. If we design to promote ourselves or if we entertain those evil thoughts of others God's Word convicts us to lay our hand upon our mouth and rethink those things.

Lift up Christ. Lift up only Christ. Let us not concern ourselves with thoughts of ourselves and by no means allow our minds to be used to think evil of others. Only think of Christ and how He may be exalted.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Strait Gate

Matthew 7:13-14 KJV
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.


I was thinking today of how strait this gate must be....

Of the world's total population, less than two percent claim any kind of relationship to Christianity.
Of those who claim some sort of relationship, many of them only claim Christianity as opposed to Islam. It is not that they are Christians in either faith or practice, but if the choices are Christian or Muslim, they prefer Christian.
Of those who are practicing some sort of Christianity many of them are involved in a works based religious system which has little to do with trusting Christ and most of all is interested in building the system.
Of those who have made a profession of saving faith in Jesus Christ, many are very casual about their faith in Christ and have no real testimony of walking with Christ.


The strait gate has much less to do with Christian versus non Christian and much more to do with how you express and practice the Christianity you profess to possess. Truly this gate is strait and very few ever find it.

January 30, 2009

I had opportunity to meditate upon this thought further and I came to realize that the most deceptive of Satan's devices to keep people from Christ is religion. He has a style to fit any personality and disposition.
He has a non Christian style
He has a non Christian peace style
He has a non Christian militant style
He has a Christian style
He has a Christian liberal style
He has a Christian conservative style
He has a Christian legalistic style
He has a Christian casual style
He has a Christian evangelistic style
He has a Christian social style
He has a fundamentalist style
He even has an independent Baptist style


The common thread in each of these styles, however, is that they distract a person from Jesus Christ.
It might be people focus of the accomplishments
It might be people focus on the good works
It might be people focus on the evils of the world
It might be people focus on a charismatic pastor
It might be people focus on a network of churches that appears to do worldwide good
It might be people focus on spiritual zeal

But they never focus on Jesus Christ. Or if they do, it is a shallow and insignificant focus and then back to their style's real focus.

God help us to come to Christ!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

He Knows Our Needs

Matthew 6:8 KJV
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Matthew 6:31-32 KJV
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.


I was so encouraged to see today that; not once, but twice in one chapter, Jesus assures us that our heavenly Father knows our needs.

He knows our needs before we ask for them.
This in no way negates our need for prayer. Jesus never discouraged prayer at all.He did discourage vain repetition. He did discourage us from repeating words just to be heard. Jesus teaches us to pray and to pray importunately. We should pray and keep on praying. We just do not need to pray poetical sayings or religious phrases.

Our heavenly Father knows what things we need.

He knows our needs therefore we have no need to worry ourselves over them.
The word "thought" of verse 31 carries the meaning of anxiety. We do not need to worry and be anxious and fret over our needs;
What shall we eat?
What shall we drink?
Where shall we find clothing?


I do not see this as forbidding us to purchase clothing, food and drink. Neither is it forbidding us to budget for these things. It does forbid us from making these the priorities of our lives.

We all go through times when the money doesn't seem to stretch as far as our needs want to take us. We have times when we must wean ourselves away from pleasures and wants and redefine what our priorities are.

In those times there is huge comfort in remembering that our heavenly Father knows what things we have need of.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Praise

Proverbs 27:21 KJV
As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.

We know what a fining pot is for silver; it purifies and brings the dross out of it.

We know what the furnace is for gold; it has the effect of bringing to the surface that which is not gold so the gold is that much finer.

But the third portion of this verse can throw us off. How is a man to his praise related in any way to the refiner's work?

After some meditation and then some study of the works of others; here is what I learned:

First, a man can refine the praise he receives.
As we walk with the Lord
As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Saviour
As we put off the deeds of the sinful man and put on the likeness of Christ

The praise we receive both of others and of the Lord becomes more pure and sincere.

Secondly, praise can refine a man.
Our reaction to praise reveals the sort of spirit we have concerning ourselves. One commentary said concerning praise,
Vain men seek it
Weak men are inflated by it
Wise men disregard it


Praise is the “fire” that brings the impurities of our spirit to the surface so that it is revealed to those around us. May we be willing in that case to allow God to skim off those impurities.

Monday, January 26, 2009

More Hope for a Fool

Proverbs 26:12 KJV
Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

The Bible has nothing good to say about a fool. Just within the pages of this chapter we find such words as:
Proverbs 26:1 KJV
As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

Proverbs 26:3 KJV
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.

Proverbs 26:7-11 KJV
The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.
As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.


And we could go on with passages that tell us
Psalms 14:1 KJV
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. ….
Again, the word of God has no good thing to say concerning the fool.

And that makes this Proverb that much more powerful. God says there is more hope for a fool than a man who is wise in his own conceit.

Wow!

The man who is wise in his own eyes
The man who is conceited and things too highly of himself
The man who cannot be rebuked and reproved


There is more hope for a fool than there is for him.

Lord help us to be humble!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Darkness Saw Great Light

Matthew 4:16 KJV
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

It is fascinating to me to consider that Jesus Christ, though born in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem, and of the tribe of Judah, began His ministry not in Judah or Jerusalem, but in the region of the rebellious northern kingdom of Israel. This is a land that had long abandoned the closest principles of Judaism and had compromised with the heathen around them. They truly "sat in darkness" but the light of Christ was shined to them first.

When I got saved I also sat in darkness. In my earlier years, I did not believe I was in darkness. At first, I thought I was in the light because I believed in God. I thought that just by virtue of the fact that I acknowledged there was a God, I was OK with Him. A little later I thought I was all right because I felt myself a good person. I did good things. I was a good student in school. I loved and tried to obey my parents. And I thought I was fine with God by virtue of my own goodness.

It was not until, a few years later; I realized the darkness of my life that I was ready to see the light of Jesus Christ. His glory and His goodness were so brilliant I could only see my life without Him as complete darkness.

What a blessing that the light of Jesus Christ shined into the dark recesses of my life and drew me to Him in salvation and then further into a life of walking near Him.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wisdom Understanding Knowledge

Proverbs 24:3-4 KJV
Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:
And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.


I am reminded of two things as I begin my considerations of these verses:
First, a house here might refer to both the family home and the house of God.
Secondly, wisdom, especially as it is found in Proverbs, speaks of Jesus Christ


So
Christ must build the houseBoth the istitution of the family and the family of God in a local church.
Psalms 127:1 KJV
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Matthew 16:18 KJV
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Understanding of the doctrines and truths of Christ
Gives both the family and the church its foundation.

And
Not just understanding the doctrines but;
Growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus ChristIs what fills the rooms of the home with those riches; which I believe refers to souls, and not financial wealth.

For further thoughts on wisdom click here:
http://mckenzie-visit-with-god.blogspot.com/2009/08/wisdom-is-out-to-get-us.html

Friday, January 23, 2009

By Strength

Exodus 13:3 KJV
And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.

Exodus 13:14 KJV
And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:

Exodus 13:16 KJV
And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.

Three times in this chapter God says that Israel was brought out of Egypt "by strength of the hand of the Lord."

God gave Israel a memorial to teach their children and grandchildren about that strength; every male firstborn animal was to be offered as a sacrifice to God. The exceptions would be in the beast of burden, who could be redeemed by offering a lamb instead. Also, every firstborn male child was to be redeemed to God through an offering.

Israel's deliverance was not wrought by the wisdom, eloquence or power of men. Moses and Aaron had no abilities that could have caused the Pharaoh to let Israel go. Their freedom was "wrung from the Egyptian tyrant by the appalling judgments of God."

More necessary than our comfort
More necessary than our prayers being answered
More necessary than our success in this world

Is that we recognize that we are not saved by the work of man's hand but “by strength of the hand of the Lord.”

May God crush all human self righteousness and self worth.
May God bring to naught the plans and schemes of mankind; even those who believe they do God service. And
May we ever remember that our deliverance, if we have it, came "by strength of the hand of the Lord."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In the Lord

Proverbs 22:19 KJV
That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.

I came to see this passage as one of the more important texts in all of the Bible. God has penned the Words of Scripture that we would put trust in the Lord.

The word trust means
Refuge
Assurance
Confidence

I am afraid that sometimes we want to use God as a means to get what it is we really put our trust in.

We have confidence in a good job; so we ask God to give us the job. Our trust is not in the Lord, it is in the job and we become disenchanted with the Lord if He does not give us what we trust.

We have confidence in a strong economy; so we ask God to give us that economy. Our trust is not in the Lord but in the good economy and we grow bitter with the Lord that He did not provide what it is we trust.

We have confidence in friends and relationships; so we ask God to give us good friends and healthy family relationships. Our trust is not in the Lord but in those friends and relationships and we become disillusioned with the Lord when that He did not supply that in which we trust.

God's Word has this end, "...that thy trust may be in the LORD..." May God so work in our lives that we lean upon Him directly and not upon that which He might give to us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Speaking Constantly

Proverbs 21:28 KJV
A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.

My attention came to these words, "the man that heareth speaketh constantly." That sounds like an impossibility. How can this man speak constantly and still hear.
James 1:19 KJV says
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

It seems to me that the Bible says a person should talk only little and listen a lot.

However, God still uses the spoken word.
It is how the early Word of God was passed down until Moses recorded it in written form.
It is how God spoke to the people through the prophets and
It is how God has chosen that the lost be saved.


Somebody needs to do some talking!

But this passage gives us a formula. The man who hears, the man who listens carefully to the Words of God and hears what people are saying concerns them in their souls; that man is in a position to speak.

The word constantly bears the meaning of "toward a goal." He does not just speak incessantly,
He speaks words that are truthful
He speaks with confidence and even with splendor
He speaks continually, never giving up on the message he has been entrusted but

He always speaks with a goal in mind. He has a purpose in his words.

Matthew 12:36 KJV
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

A wise man listens carefully and then chooses his words purposefully before he speaks constantly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rightesousness Keepeth Him

Proverbs 13:6 KJV
Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.

I came to see this passage this morning in a similar fashion as I view much of 1 John; as a "test" to discover those who are genuinely saved. 1 John does not give us a list of does and don'ts for people who want to be saved. It is not as if a person can be saved
By giving up sin or
By loving his brother or
By overcoming the world

Rather the one who has
Turned from his sin
Loves his brother and
Has overcome the world
Has given evidence that they are saved.

I saw Proverbs 13:6 in that light today. How may we know that a man is upright? We know he is upright when "righteousness keepeth him." He is not made upright by the fact that he keeps righteousness. But when he is upright, "righteousness keepeth him."

The upright man is in a wonderful position. He is guarded by his righteousness.
It protects and seals him.
It guides and preserves him.


And then when we remember that the righteousness of the believer is Jesus Christ this becomes so much more meaningful. How do we know those who are the upright? By the fact that they are kept in Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Trust My Bible

Exodus 3:1 KJV
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

Exodus 2:18 KJV
And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?

Moses' father in law is Reuel in chapter 2 and Jethro in chapter 3. I was curious to learn why this difference: especially since the two names are found so close together in the Bible. This was not a case of one author using one name and another using a different one. Nor could this be an error as there is the same author and they are so close together.

The answer is as simple as that Reuel is the man's given name and Jethro is more of an official title. It was common, for instance in the case of the kings of Egypt for them all to go by the official name pharaoh. Jethro was much the same thing.

Once again I am assured that the Bible has no errors or mistakes. We must only be diligent and studious enough to consider the book as a whole.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

God Heard

Exodus 2:23-25 KJV
And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.


Even after the King of Egypt, who had begun the affliction of Israel, had died the affliction continued. It was not this man, it was a mentality that pervaded the whole of the land. The Jews were unwelcome in the land except under heavy bondage.

And it was in this affliction and bondage that they cried. And it was this cry that came up unto God.

None of us like affliction. But if affliction causes us to cry unto God then that affliction and bondage serves a grand purpose.

May God hear our cry today as we look to him!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

From Thence...

Genesis 49:24-25 KJV
But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:


This appears to me to be the first reference to Jesus Christ as the Rock or Stone. The verse does not say that Christ will come from the fruit of Joseph, we know He did not, but that He will come from "…the God of Jacob....even by the God of thy father...."

Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, but more importantly, He is from the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.

That this reference is found in Joseph and not in Judah also reminds me of Paul's words that they are not all Israel which are of Israel and that there will also be children of Abraham who are by faith and not of Jewish descent. Our hope is not in a line of heritage or a simple blood test. Our hope is through faith in the shepherd and stone of Israel Who came from God and "shall be a help" to us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Few and Evil

Genesis 47:9 KJV
And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

Jacob's treatment of his brother in their younger years has led to him being characterized as a bitter person who seems to always have something to complain about. So it is not impossible for a person to dismiss Jacob's words to the Pharaoh as another example of his typically Jewish, negative mannerism. But perhaps there is more to this than that. Perhaps Jacob had learned to keep the years of his life right now in proper perspective. Perhaps he looked, as Abraham did, for something better (Hebrews 11:8-10).

There is no question that Jacob had been blessed of the Lord in a number of ways. He will say to Joseph in the next chapter that he had not expected to get to see him face to face again, yet God had allowed him to see Joseph's sons. He had wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and prevailed. His name was changed from Jacob (supplanter) to Israel (power with God). He had been blessed enough that he could pass on a blessing to his children. Truly his life had been blessed.

It is not that I believe we should be negative and complaining type people. We have reason to rejoice as Christians. However, we might also be finding our joy in the wrong things. The people of the world must "eat drink and be merry" it is all they have and they know it. That is not the case with the Christian. We have something far, far better than the very best this world can give. We are wise to always keep that in mind so that we do not do as the world would and party now as if there were no tomorrow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Before Comfort Came Conviction

Genesis 45:5 KJV
Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

This Joseph says after taking his brothers through a series of severe tests. I do not know how much time elapsed between their first visit to Egypt for grain and when Joseph revealed himself to them, but it was no short period and it was no pleasant experience.

On meeting Joseph the first time (though they did not know it was him)
He spoke roughly to them and gave reason for their fear
He accused them of being spies and inquired into their family
He kept one of them prisoner and demanded they not return to him without bringing Benjamin with them


As they left that first meeting
They found each of them still had the money meant to buy their grain. Fear filled in them, expecting they would then be accused of theft.

When Jacob told the to return to buy more food
They refused to go unless they could bring Benjamin.

When they arrived with Benjamin
Joseph arranged that five times more food was served to Benjamin than his brothers

And as they returned home
Joseph had hidden his silver cup in Benjamin's sack and then accuse Benjamin of theft

When it was all said and done, the brothers finally admitted
Genesis 44:16 KJV
And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.

They had hidden their sin against Joseph all of these years, and they knew God was not letting them off the hook.

It was only then that Joseph encouraged them, "...be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves..."

God is so gracious to forgive our sins and to lift the burden of guilt off our shoulders. But it isn't something that happens without some deep contrition and trying of the soul. Perhaps the reason some in the churches never find a way to forgive themselves is because they were let off the hook too easily and they know it. Having never had to deal with their sins, but being assured by a comforting pastor that God has forgiven them, they then are left to wrestle with sins that have been told are gone but they know all too well still dominate them.

Joseph did his brothers better than that. He gave them no comfort until they had come face to face with the guilt of their sin. And at that point he could then grant them a comforting word.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Patient Submission

Genesis 43:11-14 KJV
And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:
And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight:
Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:
And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.


I like what John Gill says concerning vs. 14 and Jacob's statement "If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." Gill writes, "this he said, not as utterly despairing of their return, but as expressive of his patient submission to the divine will, be it as it may be."

I read it the same way this morning. The return was necessary,
Because Simeon was still there
Because food was necessary for survival

So Jacob did what he could to insure that his sons were well treated when they returned to Egypt.

He then prayed God's mercy be upon then and entrusted them to the care of the Lord.

God's will for us is often not as we had planned. There are some somber notes in the composition of life. But we may trust the Lord that when the symphony is complete, the production as a whole will be good.

Jacob may not have learned "patient submission" easily or quickly. So it is with many if not most of us. But May God grant that we do learn it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ephraim

Genesis 41:51-52 KJV
And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.
And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.


Joseph calls Egypt "the land of my affliction" Living in Egypt would not have been his choice. As a child, dreaming as he did, he would not have dreamed that God would have placed him in the land of Egypt - even as a ruler there.

But God did make Joseph fruitful in this land of affliction. And Joseph did live to honor God in that place of affliction.

This world is, for the Christian, "the land of our affliction." It is not how God originally intended or mankind to live. It is filled with sin and with oppressive forces against the faith.

But God has made us fruitful in this land. We can accomplish much to His honor and we can live, still longing for heaven, but in a manner glorifying to our God.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Good Word

Proverbs 12:25 KJV
Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

This is a good day for a good word. There are always reasons for heaviness.
The world view
The economy
The price of fuel
The troubles in the Middle East


All of them give cause for concern. So I can see no good reason that we add to it. There are also plenty of good things we might say.
The kindness of a friend
The goodness of God's salvation
The truths of the Bible
There are compliments we can give


You name it! We can give a good word.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Price of Spiritual Prosperity

Genesis 39:1-3 KJV
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.


It is not difficult for us to read these verses and ask God to let all that we do prosper in our hand. But I was reminded this morning that, in order for that to be true of Joseph he was tested severely. In fact, this is said of him while he is a slave, sold by his own brothers. Joseph did prosper, but he did it
As a slave to Potiphar, then
As a prisoner in an Egyptian and then
As a conscript to Egypt


Even as second in command of Egypt, Joseph was not a free man. His heart would have yearned to go to the Promised Land and see his father. He was not free to do that. Years after saving the Egyptian economy he had to ask Pharaoh permission to leave Egypt long enough to bury his father.

The price of having the blessing of God in our lives is often far higher than we are willing to pay. If I would like to have God's blessings in all that I do, then I must be willing to pay the sacrifice for that blessing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Observe

Genesis 37:11 KJV
And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

I am reminded of the different reactions we may have toward the Word of God.

Joseph's brothers “envied him.....”
They were angry at him
They displayed hatred toward him
They ended up attacking him

There are those; both Christian and non Christian, whose response to the Word of the Lord or to what God is doing in their lives is less than positive.
For some, it might be a rejection of the Word of God.
Others might simply attempt to ignore the Word of God
Still others take a more aggressive stance against the Word of God.


Joseph's father, on the other hand, "...observed the saying."
The word "observed" means to hedge about it, to guard it, to keep it or to attend to it. It might be kin to his meditating upon it.

At the first Jacob rebuked his son for telling the dream and for implying that his mother and father would bow before him. But then Jacob held on to what his son had said. Rather than rejecting it or even ignoring it, he attended to it. He dwelt upon it and how it might be someday fulfilled.

God's word is not always pleasant to us at the first. There are truths in the Bible that are contrary to our sin nature. But if we will observe them; meditate upon them and their appropriate place in our lives, it will become apparent to us that God has only our good intended in it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The House That Wisdom Built

Proverbs 9:1-2 KJV
Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.


It is no secret that the wisdom of the Proverbs is easily a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus builds His house,
Which is the house of His body, the incarnate God
Which is the house of His people, their lives lived in His path
Which is the house of God, the local church


The thing that pricks my heart though is just this; I want to let Jesus build my house too. His wisdom
His power
His timing
His motivation


What He builds will stand the crashing tests of time and eternity. Men may build what they believe to be beautiful works, upon their own ingenuity and hard work, but there is no way they can know how long it will last. Often times it doesn't last their lifetimes, let alone into the lifetime of their children, or greater still, into eternity. Any house built that will not survive eternity is just so much waste.

Wisdom; build my house!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Lead On Softly

Genesis 33:14 KJV
Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.

Here is a very good lesson for both pastor and parent. When Esau pressed Jacob in a particular direction, even though the relationship between them was tenuous at best, Jacob placed his care over his family and flocks ahead of the outside pressures he was facing. He "lead on softly" and he "lead.... according [his family and flocks] be able to endure."

Each of us are given those for whom we are responsible to care. Ours is not to try to make the same pace as another person. Ours is not even to make the pace we personally would like to keep. Ours is to look after those in our charge and "lead on softly" and lead them at a pace they are able to endure. This is not a contest or a competition.
We don't have to be the
Fastest
Biggest
Friendliest
Closest
Or anything else. We don't have to arrive at our destination at the same time as another or with the same numbers as another. What we do have to do is lead our families and lead those God entrusts to us at a pace they can endure. We must get them all home!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Prayer

Genesis 32:9-12 KJV
And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.


Jacob's prayer before he met Esau began long before he wrestled all night with the angel. Prayer is much more than merely getting what we want from the Lord. Jacob's prayer included
A rehearsal of the Word of God to Jacob
A confession of his sinfulness and
A humbling of himself before the Lord


I want to be a man of prayer. I want to be the sort of Christian who is as well known for a life of prayer as for anything else.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lead Keep Talk

Proverbs 6:22 KJV
When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.

Proverbs speaks about the father's commandments and the mother’s law. I think of a law as being a foundational element and a commandment as being an action based upon the law. I am not sure that there is really a difference between the two but is given to show the same respect for the authority of each. I am sure that both the commandment and the law speak of the Word of God and its place in our lives.

This commandment and wisdom is said to be a constant companion.
It leads us when we travel
It keeps us while we sleep and
It talks with us when we awake.

What a blessing we have when we have the Word of God close to us. What a blessing we miss when we choose to set aside the Word of God for other interests in this world. Nothing will bring the same comfort as the Word of God to the soul of the one spiritual enough to discern it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Taken Too Lightly

Genesis 27:13 KJV
And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.

Rebekah thought too little of the curse. In her mind all that would happen would be minor compared to the benefits of the deception. Her manipulation of the events seemed well worth what she considered to be her responsibility to make what God had promised her happen.

And mankind in general tends to take the curse of God's judgment too lightly.

I think of
Genesis 4:13 KJV
And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

I think of Israel when they said
Matthew 27:25 KJV
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

They just did not realize the weight of what they had asked to place on their own shoulders.

And I think of
Matthew 20:22 KJV
But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

They thought they were able, but they had no idea what they were asking to get themselves in to.

And I think of the lost man who thinks death just won't be that bad. They have no idea the weight of the curse they carry.

May God open our eyes so that we only want to follow the Lord. Nobody can bear the curse of God upon them.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Two Manner of People

Genesis 25:23 KJV
And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Any parent of multiple children is aware that those children are "different manner of people."
Some are sensitive and easily hurt.
Others are stubborn and hard willed.
Some are active and chose athletic activities.
Others are more intellectual and choose activities that require more brain than brawn.

And the parent soon learns that these differences have little to do with how a child is raised.

But this text indicates something more profound than these this is a spiritual difference between the two. One will seek the Lord and the other will not.

I am reminded that, in this world, there are people who have a bent toward the spiritual and others who are more prone to worldliness. Even among those who have a spiritual bent, there are many, if not most, who pursue a type of spirituality that is away from Christ and even among those who seem less likely to turn to the things of the Lord there are those who come to Jesus Christ.

My task is to faithfully proclaim the truth of God's Word and to trust the Lord do His will in the lives of people from there.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Principles Rather than Promises

Proverbs 3:9-10 KJV
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

Perhaps the most appropriate way to apply the book of Proverbs to our lives today is to see in it principles rather than promises. Many of the wonderful truths found in the Proverbs do not appear to "work" in our world today.

Proverbs 22:6 KJV
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Yet Jesus said
Matthew 10:34-37 KJV
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.


Proverbs 16:7 KJV
When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Yet this seems to be contradicted by New Testament passages such as
2 Timothy 3:12 KJV
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Because Proverbs is a part of the Old Testament there are a few things that we can be sure of:
This has a primary application to the Jews. It occurred to me that the Proverbs may be the pattern for the rule of the Millennial Kingdom. and
This is intended, as a part of the Old Testament Scriptures, to bring us to Jesus Christ.
The fact that some of the truths of Proverbs do not seem to play out exactly the way we think they should makes them none the less true. Though this orld opposes the high ideals of the Scriptures changes nothing concerning their holy quality.


My son recently referred to the Proverbs as "the milk of the Word." He said the simple truths in the Proverbs help to make sense and "wash down" the meat of other portions of Scripture.

So a man's barns may not be bursting out with new wine, but he is still wisest if he honors the Lord with his substance and with the firstfruits of his increase.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Every One of Them

Revelation 6:11 KJV
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

The Bible says of those that "were slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held" that "white robes were given unto every one of them."

Not of few of them
Not the most influential of them
Not the most famous among them
Not many of them or even
Most of them

The Bible says those white robes were given to every one of them.

God sees things through a different sort of lens than we do. We judge and categorize people. We divide the children of God into classes of
Faithfulness
Effectiveness and
Value


God just says that every one of them gets a white robe.

I am so looking forward to that day in heaven when we no longer view one another in an unwritten hierarchy but see each child of God as just what he is, redeemed in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A New Year's Focus

Revelation 5:12 KJV
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

"Worthy is the Lamb...."

As we enter into this New Year it seems appropriate to put our eyes on what really matters.
It is not a position
It is not a possession
It is not a promotion
It is not a resolution


What really matter in life is Jesus Christ. Without Him all else is foolishness and worthlessness.

Without Jesus Christ a life lived temporal, fragile and vain. A man may achieve what some would call great things without every knowing Jesus Christ. But if he has lived for self or for any other cause than to give glory to Jesus Christ, his effort has no value. It will one day fade to dust.

Only Jesus Christ is worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing. So let's focus on giving it only to Him in 2009.